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Verdict in Fraud Case Against Tycoon Delayed

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

The verdict in the forgery case against Oknha Seang Chan Heng, a businesswoman who runs Heng Development Company, was delayed yesterday after Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Long Kesphirum said the case needed to be reinvestigated because there was not enough evidence for a conviction.
The unusual move will likely result in a delay of about five months before a verdict is handed down in the latest case against the high-profile tycoon, court observers say.
Ms. Chan Heng was charged in 2014 with using forged documents to sell 147 hectares of farmland in Kampong Chhnang in 2007 that did not belong to her.
The 49-year-old businesswoman was charged with “forgery of public documents and the use of forged public documents” under articles 626, 627 and 628 of the Penal Code, judge Long Kesphirum noted during the trial.
Ms. Chan Heng was sued by Lim Khy, one of seven people who say she sold land in Rolear Pha-ear district belonging to them. Ms. Khy, 41, said she represents the group.
Judge Kesphirum said his decision to send the case back to another investigative judge was based on the fact that the court had only seen copies of the documents that were allegedly forged and not the originals. As a result, he said, there was insufficient evidence to convict the tycoon whose business interests span real estate, restaurants, animal farms and construction.
“To sentence any suspect or to find justice for both parties in this case, it is necessary to have enough and more specific evidence,” the judge said, explaining that the case had to be transferred to an investigative judge for reinvestigation and more research to find the “original forged documents.”
Ms. Khy’s defense lawyer Thuy Sokun said the move was intended to delay the case for the benefit of the high-profile businesswoman.  
“The forged public documents were made by Ms. Seang Chan Heng. So how will the investigative judge find them?” he told Khmer Times. “The court’s decision was aimed to delay this case and to help Ms. Chan Heng only,” he added.
Mr. Sokun said that in 1994, his client and six men bought the 147 hectares of farmland from residents of Teuk Huoth commune’s Teuk La-ok village. Ms. Khy was later given authority to look after the land after the six men left to work abroad. All are Chinese nationals with Cambodian citizenship.
Mr. Sokun said Ms. Lim Khy discovered in 2007 that the land had been sold by Ms. Chan Heng to other people. “Ms. Seang Chan Heng forged land documents, and used these to sell the land,” he said, adding that his client is demanding that Ms. Chan Heng return the land in question and pay $1 million in damages and compensation.
Ms. Chan Heng could not be reached for comment yesterday. Her lawyer, Mey Vanny, declined to discuss the case it. “Please ask my client about it,” he said.

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